UW Football Camp: Off To A Fresh(man) Start

Aug. 6, 2007

SEATTLE - Every summer when August rolls around it is time for college football to start up again. That means a large group of freshman get to experience several firsts at the higher level.

First dorm room. First college meal. First meeting. First practice.

Washington has 32 true freshman on its roster, each of whom attended his first official practice on Sunday. Most arrived sometime in July to take part in the Bridge Program that will allow them to become more acclimated to both living away from home and the academic challenges they will encounter.

Most of the players say some of the same things, that the game is faster and living from home is strange, but many agree that this is an exciting time in their lives.

'It's exciting, but at the same time you kind of miss home,' said tailback Curtis Shaw. 'It's nice here so I don't want to go home every other day or anything. It's been a good experience being away from home.

Shaw is from Stockton, Calif., where he attended the same high school as Louis Rankin and he has been using that relationship to his advantage.

'Learning from Louis is a great experience,' he said. 'Being from the same area helps us bond easily and watching him has helped me learn.'

The learning curve is higher in college and Shaw said as much, expressing how overwhelming this new life can be.

'We've learned so much going through the bridge class and now training camp,' he said. 'It's tough, but it's going to help us so much now that we're on the field. We have a strict schedule, but we're really focused and we're getting both the mental and the physical preparation down.'

Several freshman will be getting a chance to play significant minutes this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball where graduation hit the Huskies pretty hard last season. Special teams is always a place where the new guys can show what they are capable of and fall camp will provide that opportunity. Nothing, however, can prepare these kids for the emotions of walking onto the field in the Carrier Dome on August 31st or into a packed Husky Stadium the following week.

'The biggest emotion will be excitement,' Shaw said. 'I'll be ready to play, but there will be nerves. We're going into a dome with over 60,000 people to play a game on national television. And when we come home the first time it will be wild. Everyone I know will be at that game and everyone here will be there too so I'm excited about how crazy it will be, but the nerves will come.'

The difference will show on the field too, where the transition from high school to college is a major one, but now it is time for these guys to show everything they have.

'It's faster, bigger, stronger. Everything is up to the next level. It's what I have expected, but it's different having to pull out your full potential everyday. We have to expect to be great in order to be great.'

Notes:

• Freshman Nate Williams, listed as a running back in preseason rosters, asked to work out at defensive back before the first practice. He will first be looked at as a safety.

• Kicker Ryan Perkins punted with his left foot after returning from an injury to his knee. He will resume place kicking today. Coach Willingham said that he looked as good as any of the other punters, but they will not be sure how much progress he has made until they see him kick.

• Freshman Nick Wood is in a cast, recovering from a previously injury to his wrist. He will be out 2-4 weeks.

• Today is day two of practice. The first day of pads will be Thursday, with the first two-a-day on Friday.

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